Climate change is one of the biggest concerns of young people today; we, the youngest generation, are distressed and overwhelmed with this current global nightmare.
There is only so much we, people aged ten to 30, can do to stop climate change, especially given the fact that the only change possible is if governments and billion-dollar corporations do their part as well in cleaning up the mess that they mostly made. Politicians can say that they’re all for putting a stop to the destruction of our planet, but when it comes to enacting change, we see no urgency.
Take the new green deal as an example. Even after the concept was introduced in 2006, almost 15 years ago, and having U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez introduce a new outline in 2019 to be passed in the United States, we still haven’t been able to have it passed in the House of Representatives. We can scream, shout, and march for so long before it takes a toll on our mental health. More youngsters are becoming increasingly aware every day of this inevitable catastrophe. Meanwhile, those in power, capable of enacting real change, are turning a blind eye.
As Mario Alejandro Ariza says in his essay, “Come Heat and High Water,” a city like Miami can’t afford the negligence. It isn’t the only city in vast danger either. As an example, I will be using a city that is near and dear to my heart: New York City. My love for this city began when I was five years old and would hear “Empire state of mind” on the radio every time we happen to be taking a trip there. However, this isn’t about its’ star dazzling lights and beautiful skyline. But about how its’ continuous rise of water is one of the numerous problems we have expressed extreme concern about.
This is not just an issue for the 8 million habitats on the island, but the whole metropolitan area, which includes my hometown in the southwestern area of Connecticut. With the city I adore and the hometown I grew up in being in danger, my anxiety has doubled. According to the NYC EDC, 37% of lower Manhattan will be exposed to storm surges by 2050. In a survey conducted by the Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York, they asked 1,400 young voters ranging from 14 to 24 years old, what they felt were the most important issues for the next mayor and elected officials. 90% of them said that there needed to be more serious action taken against climate change.
I and adults like Ariza can agree with them, as he explains in his essay that water rise can imperil most cities on the east coast. The youth of NYC aren’t the only ones who show concern though. Just two years ago, hundreds of high school students across the country conducted a school walkout in protest of the lack of care towards our planet. Down in Miami Beach, kids as young as 14 felt the need to skip school and march. How could they not? Ariza states that at the moment, Miami Dade county averages about 14 and 17 tidal floods a year, but by 2024, that number will jump up to 285 times a year. How much more information and warnings from the youth will it take to enable the change we need?
Let’s take a break from the negativity and focus on the possible solutions for New York City and its’ fight against climate change. With our outcry, the city was able to come up with a plan that could save the 520 miles of coastline surrounding the city. To put it in perspective, this is more shoreline mileage than Miami, Boston, Los Angeles, and San Fransisco combined. Along with the water rise, NYC faces extreme heat and downpours as well. The plan that has been proposed consists of reducing GHG emissions by over 80% by 2050 and attempting to transition from fossil fuels to renewable clean energy, as well as providing, resiliency proposals for protecting coastal areas and achieving cooling equity.
While we applaud them for taking matters into their own hands, sadly I can’t say the same for other states. The youth of America can’t relax until other states have adopted a proposal like theirs. Especially with states like Florida who are in as much, if not more, danger as New York City, it’s astonishing that they don’t put in their part of stopping climate change.
Now that we are on the topic of Florida, it is a good time to get into Arizia’s concept of resilience regarding not only Miami but climate change in general. In his essay, he explains the different concepts of resilience with examples such as self-care books and resilience against school bullies. He talks about how everyone seems to think there is always resilience in the world for everything. But when it comes to a city like Miami that is consistently getting the worst end of the stick, you couldn’t be more wrong. Arizia says “Resilience without massive carbon cuts and immediate state and federal aid is the policy equivalent of palliative hospice care.”
With no effort from the state governments to move forward and enact a solution, resilience won’t be able to save us now.
Natalia Elizabeth Sanchez lives in Norwalk.